Offshore action aplenty
  |  First Published: December 2004

The best time of the year is here and most families like some time to get out and chase a few fish. Local Christmas weather is usually pleasant and the fishing has been really good of late.

Offshore fishing should be at a peak, with yellowfin tuna and marlin out on the continental shelf and they might move in closer for the next month or so.

Striped tuna and bonito should show up this month. North Reef is one of the best spots but they can blow up on bait throughout Stockton Bight at times. Just look for the diving birds.

The buoy over North Reef has been holding school kingfish for the past two months. Although they’re only little tackers, sooner or later a big hood shows up – just ask Jason Lambert, who managed to hook a monster around 15kg but lost it under my boat, which was nearby.

It shot straight under us and rubbed the line on my hull. Jason threw a few squid over to us to troll with, as he reckoned that even though he hooked the fish, it had been chasing my popper. Jason runs trolls live squid fast very close to the buoy and hooks up on nearly every pass.

It’s time for a stroll, motor or canoe along the upper reaches of our many rivers where you can hook bass, flathead and whiting.

If there is little rain these three species can actually overlap and it isn’t all that uncommon that an angler hooks a flathead or whiting 30km or 40km inland from the sea. The junction of the Hunter and Patterson rivers has this sort of fishing. You can be thinking you are targeting only bass and a 3kg lizard can snaffle your lure.

Around Raymond Terrace there are a lot of sandy or muddy banks which at times can turn up flathead, bass, whiting, tailor and the odd huge carp. The varying salinity in this water is the key. When it’s salty, anything can happen.


The number of crabs taken of late is astounding and a tub of blue swimmers sitting next to the Christmas turkey isn’t out of the question. A lot of estuary fishos are saying it’s one of the best crab seasons they have seen.

If your want to target jewfish over the holiday period, a few nice fish have come from the Carrington Basin, the Lee Wharf area and in front of the pilot station on the drop-off. For the diehard lure-tossers the lights of the Stockton ferry terminal and those along the old BHP site have been working fairly well for schoolies from 5kg to 10kg.

A number of huge whiting have been taken around the Horseshoe Beach area and between Nobbys Head and Big Ben Reef off the beach. Beach worms are by far the best bait. Bream are on these two spots as well but mainly late afternoon and throughout the night. Pumping nippers and carrying them in can be one way of staying ahead of everyone else around this area.

The shallow flats hold a lot of bream, whiting and flathead in the early morning and late afternoon.

Don’t forget your fishing licence as DPI Fisheries officers are always around during the holidays.,

Don’t forget about the kids through the holidays. There are some great sheltered waterways and smaller beaches to fish into the afternoon nor’-easters. Swansea Channel is popular for this and the number of trevally and bream I have seen taken around Lucys Wall and the Redhead Breakwall is enough for me to get my kids down there. Trevally, barbecued with lemon and a dash of chilli sauce, aren’t too bad.

Have a great Christmas.

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